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Published on September 01, 2016

First babies born at St. Vincent’s new Family Birth Place

By Jesse Hollett, Clay Today

Although they’re not playmates yet, Michael Harris and Scarlett Abrecht already have something in common as the first babies born at St. Vincent’s Medical Center Clay County’s new Family Birth Place.

“It just happened that I was the first person to deliver, it just happened by chance,” said Virginia Harris of Middleburg, Michael Harris’ mother. “I thought that was kind of cool.”

Swaddled in zip blankets and born only an hour and a half apart on Aug. 23, Harris and Abrecht look around at a completely new world. Last Tuesday, St. Vincent’s Healthcare showed a new world to expecting parents to be in Middleburg and all over Clay County.

The J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Women and Infants Pavilion added 12 state-of-the-art patient rooms and marked the completion of St. Vincent’s $33.1 million expansion on its Middleburg facility.

The addition, nearly a year in the making, has 56 associates all educated in neonatology, 24-hour security and a certified lactation counselor to help teach first time mothers how to breastfeed properly.

“I had a great doctor, everything was lickety-split,” said Sarah Abrecht of Green Cove Springs, mom of Scarlett Abrrecht. “Originally, we didn’t think we’d make it here… they were great, they kept popping in ‘can we get you anything, can we help you with anything.’”

For the Abrecht and Harris families however, their favorite feature seemed to be the 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. room service. The first of its kind in Clay County, patients can upgrade their meals through a concierge service for food reminiscent of five-star hotels that offer such fare as steak and lobster dinners.

Also through the concierge service, patients can upgrade their bed linens, premium robes, baby clothes and equipment.

One of the most important features of the new facility, however, might just be the rooms themselves, which contain all the equipment necessary to deliver babies.

“That gives these moms the opportunity to stay in one room from admission to discharge…they don’t have to go to another room,” said Priscilla Lagmay, nurse manager. “That’s just a feature not all facilities have and it’s just some [parents] really enjoy.”

The entire facility is setup to reduce stress to the parents before and during delivery as well as when they get home. Patients can come back to the facility after birth and ask questions to lactation counselors that might have slipped their minds while they were in the birthing facility.

Abrecht said the entire experience was stress free. Likewise, the calming atmosphere rubbed off on baby Scarlett. “She’s not fussy at all, she’s very relaxed,” she said.

The Abrechts delivered their first daughter, Sophia, 10 years ago at St. Vincent’s in Augusta, Ga. This time, baby Scarlett will have an older sister “eager” to help care for her.

It took them nearly a decade to decide on if they even wanted a new baby or not.

“We were tossing it around for like the last 10 years,” Abrecht said. “We talked about it and decided we were getting too old so we should probably do it if we were going to.”

While her experience was stress free, Abrecht said the first thing she’s going to do is take a shower and sit down in her rocking chair for a few minutes.

“That’s all I want to do, just sit down and relax,” she said. “Just get back into the groove of being home.”

Michael and Scarlet were the first born at St. Vincent’s new birthing suite, but reactions are good and hopes are high. Lagmay said she hopes to see plenty of new faces in the facility, which means plenty of new faces in Clay County.

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